REVIEW: Romeo & Juliet at Redgrave Theatre 8/10 (Gerry Parker)
THIS premier of the now annual touring production by the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School of a Shakespearean play once again is aimed principally at a young audience inexperienced in viewing works by the Bard of Avon.
Each new generation of adapters and directors goes in search of ideas that will serve as an easily accessible introduction for a young audience to the works of William Shakespeare, but few have come up with one that works better, or even nearly as well as this adaptation by Toby Hulse. By using the character of a little girl, Emily, a deeply committed fan of the films of Walt Disney, to lead us through the story of Romeo and Juliet and on to the 'Happy ever after' ending she believes all stories end in, Toby Hulse, who also directed the piece, told the tale in an easily identifiable modern manner.
He cleverly added snatches of music from, amongst others, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and Pinocchio to form links with the world of Walt Disney.
To begin with it is very funny Phil Dunster's posturing arrogant Tybalt's first meeting with Perry Moore's 'too good to be true' Mercutio being full of fine comic business. There was plenty of fun also in the near send-up of young love between Hebe Dickins' picture of purity as Juliet, and Craig Fuller's irresistibly handsome Romeo.
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When Emily's 'Happy Ending' turned to tragedy, a tricky situation handled skilfully by Molly Hanson-Akins, and Nikki Taggart as the overbearing Mother Capulet, not a sound could be heard from the audience who were by now thoroughly engrossed in the tragic tale of Juliet and her Romeo.
During its tour this production will bring much enjoyment to its audiences, and provide them with an admirable introduction to a great play.